Hunk Of Skin (New Year’s Resolution, Book Twelve)

I actually bought this for my father. I was browsing the used bookshop run by the Friends of the Library – Montgomery County, when I saw this. My father is great Picasso fan. Naturally, I acknowledge Picasso’s genius and love many of his paintings, but he’s not my favorite (Kandinsky, Pollock, Cezanne would all rank higher for me, for example).

The translation is irritatingly idiosyncratic. For example:

y el clerigo estranados frios
pintados de azafran y verde cargados

This is translated as:

and the priest standing coldly apart painted
saffron and green

In the Spanish, pintados, painted, is on the earlier line. Why did the translator move it?

This is a pattern.

Look, Picasso was no poet. He clearly tries to project his visual sensibility into the medium but it is just warmed over surrealism. Does the translator believe that new line breaks, indentations, and spacings will improve it? If so, to what purpose? Surely something like this is more about a historical document about Picasso as it is about publishing very good poetry? But Paul Blackburn, who translated these poems, decided rather on an ill advised effort to… what? Improve? I don’t know. All I know is that these are not particularly good poems (more like your average, MFA style product) but their author gives them a value that an interference minded translator can only diminish.


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